Stay With Me, Remain With Me Here

The chant, “Bleibet hier, Stay With Me,” has been a haunting backdrop for me this week. Serious illness and painful life transitions in my faith community and family have called me to hold vigil with those whom I love. With Marge Piercy in her poem, “Gracious Goodness” I ask, “Why is there nothing/I have ever done with anybody/that seems to me so obviously right” than to hold vigil with others? Stay with me. Remain here with me. Watch and pray. Watch and pray.

And now my sister-in-law is finally at the end of her agonizing journey through Alzheimer’s. She is in hospice at a memory care facility three short miles from me. Stay with me, remain here with me. My vigil candle ablaze, I look toward her care unit and send light. An adaptation of the Loving Kindness prayer finds its way to Phyllis on each breath I send:

May you be safe from harm.
May you be free from fear.
May you be released from pain.
May you pass into light in peace.
I love you, Phyllis.
May I let you go with joy.

There is solace for me in this commingling of spirits. 

A Plea

A Plea 

Some struggle to restrain the storm 
that broods in every soul-cell.
They struggle to quell the looming eruption
Or the gut-wrenching whimper that rumbles 
and hiccups on the crest of unstoppable sobs.
Their fear demands, “Just how supreme will this court get?”
Others teem with pent up joy released and celebrated.

I hear the preacher pray:

May  we respect one another.
May  we listen deeply.
May  we refuse violence of word and body.


c. Rita H Kowats
June 26, 2022

Release The Talking Heads

Nino Bughadze
We are wrapped 
In Rapid-fire thoughts
Ejected with rapid-fire words.

We leave no wiggle room for being,
From whence comes truth.
(Even Molly of Denali’s mom
Tells her to slooooooow down.)

Where are you?
Have we wound you round so tightly
That we’ve stifled your every nudge
Nestled in the recesses of our souls?

Unbind us.
Peel off this tyranny of constant chatter
And take us home to that spacious center
Where you frolic with abandon.
Release our Talking Heads.

c. Rita Hemmer Kowats 
June 11, 2022

“And Jesus Wept”

My friend Jim wrote this poem in 1987 to tell the story of that year’s Gay Pride Parade in NYC. He was an extroverted mystic, fitting no one’s mold. Jim lived enough years after that to see some progress toward justice, but this was a bleak time. May our tears be for joy this year

Corpus Christi: New York "87"

Sunny Sunday in late June.
Thousands march.
Joyous and free.
I joined.

Searchers and seekers
Walking with dignity and pride.
Approaching the Cathedral:
A contradiction!

Blue barricades, blue flashing lights
On cop cars and paddy wagons;
Blue shirted police arm to arm
Protecting the Cathedral.

A Crucifixion?
The front steps blocked by
A blue Army in blue berets
(looking psychotic)
Shaking rosaries, thumping Bibles
Yelling “Sinners Sinners” as we passed by.

“Shame, shame, shame,” we murmured
Softly in reply.
I looked for Jesus beyond the barricades.
Not there!
“Thank God,” I said.

At 3 o’clock the parade stopped.
A city fell silent.
Bells tolled.

From the Village up Fifth Avenue.
Coming closer and closer
Passing over us
Until the whole sky was filled with
Colored balloons.

My heart burned within,
I remembered all who died of AIDS.
Gazing at the heavens,
I watched a great loving God
Gather balloons, holding them high
In God’s bright blue sky
Above the blue baracades, blue lights
Blue armies & blue shirted cops.

My God gathered these children,
Sons & daughters into a peace-filled
Eternal embrace.

I wept.
Turning, I saw two older women,
Pioneers and witnesses of the movement,
Weeping and holding each other as they
Too gazed upward.

Peace to you and me!

James L. Becker

Beauty Cannot Be Banned

BBC Ukrainecast- graffiti left in Bucha by Russian soldiers
Katarzyna Modrzejewska

Beauty Rises

Beauty rises.
No matter what.

It rises from rich loam
and from tomes teeming
with dreaming.

A sunflower in Donetsk region
lifts its face, offering seeds 
to a waiting lark.
One errant seed clinging to a claw
drops into the rubble 
of the besieged city.

The seed pushes up 
through a crack in the rubble.

Beauty rises.
No matter what.

c. Rita Hemmer Kowats 
June 2, 2022

Spiritual Support

Today the proverbial last straw is falling on my back and Ive spent a long while staring into space. The way out stretches into two forks on the road to peace: a new version of something I wrote earlier on these pages, and a healing mantra which I’ve prayed a good part of this day. I hope that one of them speaks to you and offers healing.


Before we escape into more analysis…
This time let us sit in silence together 
And feel our common suffering to the depths 
Until we know, really know, 
The place to which we have come. 

Then let us stand together and act.


Breathing in,   I honor this moment.
Breathing out, I am at peace.

Breathing in,   I step into suffering.
Breathing out, I release expectation.

Breathing in,    I step into grief.
Breathing out,  I release expectation.

Breathing in,     I know I am loved.
Breathing out,   I release doubt.

Breathing in,     I honor this moment.
Breathing out.  Breathing in.
I honor this moment.

Lest We Fade Away

Narcissus vanished. All that remained 
was the fragrance of his beauty— 
constant and sweet, the scent of heliotrope. 

His task was only to behold himself. 

Whatever emanated from him he loved 
back into himself. 
He no longer drifted in the open wind, 
but enclosed himself in a narrowing circle 
and there, in its grip, he extinguished 

Uncollected Poems

from A Year With Rilke: Daily Readings From The Best Of Rainer Maria Rilke 

In the Greek myth of Narcissus he falls in love with his own reflection and fades out of existence. Today it feels as though the human species is in danger of fading away, having been gazing too long on our own reflection. Spirituality is about letting go of our fixation on ego and breaking through to divinity. Rilke says of Narcissus, “whatever emanated from him he loved back into himself.” When we love everything back into ourselves the common good suffers. Wars break out. Greed abounds. So, today I offer this practice:

Breathing in I welcome healthy ego.

Breathing out I release self-serving ego.

Breathing in I rest in soul-self.

Breathing out I emanate love.

May it be so.

For Love Of A Blackbird

For Love Of A Blackbird

The pastor preaches passionately about Truth 
Exposing the lies Pilate 
Spins to the crowd outside.

(She could have preached it in another church earlier and called it “Face the Nation.”)

In yet another inner sanctum, Cory Booker 
Exposes the lies spit at another prophet on the docket
And the beat goes on, La de da de de.
And the beat goes on, La de da de de

Meanwhile, on the lush shore of a quarter-mile long lake 
The crisp and clear one-tone-tune of the mating
Red Wing Blackbirds preaches truth to my soul:

One true tune can stop a lie in its tracks.
Oh, for the love of a blackbird.

c. Rita Hemmer Kowats March 27, 2022

Morning Reflection for Troubled Times

Chartres Labyrinth
Prayer for the Morning 

With this new day, we open our
eyes and we pray: God, inhabit our 
seeing. Live in our looking. Be our 
vision and our sight. Illumine us, 
that we may perceive you, know 
you, welcome you in all the ways 
you go hiding in this world.


Jan Richardson In The Sanctuary of Women: A Companion for Reflection And Prayer

Some Questions for Reflection Today

How do we seek God? 

Where do we perceive the presence of the holy? 

How far are we willing to go to find it? 

What feeds our minds and imaginations in our searching? 

How does our hunger for God impact our other relationships—with institutions and systems and other people? 

How do we claim and create our own visionary spaces…? 

Jan Richardson In the Sanctuary of Women: A Companion for Reflection And Prayer

Winter And Spring
Winter 2015

I heard the sabers rattling
In digital space last night,
The same sabers heard in ‘90 and ‘03.
The blade smiths deftly forged their words
Hard as metal and plunged
Them into the furnace of fear
Where they shaped and tempered them
Into the fine point
That is called war.

Today I listen for the words
Of prophets rising above the din of sabers,
Their words clear and clean and true
Forged in the furnace of their souls
Shaped and honed by a justice
Crafted with eyes wide open.
I summon the prophet 
Who lives in the furnace of my own soul:
“Come forth!”

c. Rita Hemmer Kowats 
December 2015

Spring 2022

The blade smiths are busy in Ukraine
As I grieve for a neighbor who died yesterday.
Loved ones draped his coffin with the flag 
That stood at attention in the alcove of his apartment. 
They donated his prosthetic legs to the next victims 
Of the boys in the back room.

“Oh, when will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?”
Today Pete Seeger’s lyrics wafted 
Over the shower stall at the YMCA
And froze me on the battlefield of Ukraine.
Joining in on the next verse I felt that prophet 
In the furnace of my soul 
Replacing complacence with justice.
We sang the whole song, 
Strangers standing together at last 
In the hushed silence of truth laid bare.

c. Rita Hemmer Kowats
March 14, 2022